Iron Core Bootcamp

Sarah Lurie
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Kettlebell, Total Body Workouts

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When I first started using kettlebells several years ago, I had Sarah Lurie's Iron Core 1 & 2 for awhile. Eventually, I found kettlebell workouts that I liked better, so I got rid of those DVDs. However, I've been interested in trying this one for awhile, mainly because of its shorter length (not to mention the fact that reviewer Kath said it really worked her glutes!).

This is a very basic intermediate kettlebell workout. There are four rounds--each of which is EXACTLY the same--consisting of five exercises each. Each exercise is performed for about a minute, and Lurie moves quickly from one exercise to the next. There is a one minute rest between rounds.

Lurie exercises alone here, teaching live in a large brick studio. She uses a single 25# kettlebell for all of the exercises--impressive, especially given that she was several months pregnant when this DVD was filmed! The list of exercises appear on-screen before each round as follows:

*single leg deadlift/single arm row combo
*alternating clean
*squat/snatch combo
*alternating tactical lunge
*alternating swings

The Main Menu allows you to Play All or to choose each round individually. There is also an Abs Circuit listed. I wound up selecting this as a warm-up since there is no warm-up or cool-down on the DVD. It turns out that the "abs circuit" is a 3 1/2 minute section of all swings, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. Lurie does singles left, singles right, doubles, alternating, alternating. This concludes the workout, clocking in at just under 30 minutes.

I wound up doing two rounds (plus abs) of this routine; that was enough for me. This is certainly a decent kettlebell workout, but personally, I don't enjoy repeating the exact same exercises over and over again. Given this, I don't think that this one will be a keeper for me.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah does not mirror cue here, but most of the time, she does not actually say right-left, so this is rarely an issue. I liked her better in this workout than in the first two Iron Cores, I think because she was on her own.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Kath already broke this one down and described it in detail, so I'll just say that I did this one again this morning, and I really enjoy this workout. I agree that the music is unnoticeable, and like Kath said, the fact that the circuits are repeated a whopping 4 times is not very exciting. When I do this though, I go as heavy as I can, and only do the circuits 3 times. That's plenty for me physically, and doing it only 3 times keeps it from getting boring. The chest and triceps are not worked directly, so adding some pushups to the workout would make it perfect. My legs, shoulders, back, and glutes feel well worked after this one.

Nyx Black


I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 29.5-min. kettlebell workout has no warm-up, nor is there a cool-down / stretch. The main heart of the workout (26 min.) is the circuit, which is repeated four times with a 1 min. rest in between circuits. The circuit exercises are single-leg deadlift & single-arm row combo (30 sec. / side), alternating clean (1 min.), squat / snatch combo (30 sec. / side), alternating tactical lunge (1 min.), and alternating swing (1 min.) The abs portion (2.5 min.) actually consists of 20 seconds of swings followed by 10 seconds of rest. You’ll do one set of single-arm swings on one side, one set of single-arm swings on the other side, one set of double-arm swings, and two sets of alternating swings.
This workout is for those who want standard kettlebell workouts, specifically the so-called “hard style,” rather than the kettlebell lite / fusion style; in other words, you’re working with 8 kg rather than 8 lbs.

Level: I’d recommend this to intermediate exercisers on up who are comfortable with kettlebell basics. Ideally you’ll have done Vols. 1 & 2 of Sarah’s Iron Core series or any solid introductory kettlebell DVD and/or live class that has covered all of the exercises included here (the most advanced of which is probably the snatch, although if you’re not quite there yet substitute a high pull instead).
I consider myself an intermediate / advanced exerciser who’s working up to a fully intermediate level of kettlebells. I’m comfortable with the basics but am not able to go too heavy or for too long, nor am I comfortable with some of the trickier moves. I found this one sufficiently challenging in terms of intensity, but I liked that I didn’t have to do anything too fancy to get my heartrate up and my muscles worked out.

Class: Sarah alone, instructing live.

Music: instrumental rock-type stuff. I tuned out it very quickly.

Set: bare bones brick warehouse with concrete floor.

Production: clear picture and sound, with Sarah’s voice much louder than the music (fine by me, since it’s repetitive and bland). I don’t remember any distracting or seriously unhelpful camera angles.

Equipment: This is designed to be done with the same kettlebell throughout the entire circuit, although if you really needed to switch out mid-circuit you could, if you had your other ‘bell all lined up. My goal is to work up to using my 25 lbs. for all four circuits like Sarah; I only managed 1 ½ circuits with it (I used 20 lbs. for the others, although I resumed using the 25 for the abs bit) my first time through.

Space Requirements: This is very compact. You should have enough room to lunge behind you and swing in front of you, plus room overhead for the snatches. Definitely clear out those kids, pets, significant others, and other valuables, though.

DVD Notes: Your menu options are Play, Set 1, Set 2, Set 3, Set 4, and Abs Circuit.
My copy of this came in the Iron Core Kettlebell 4 DVD Workout Set. As far as I know the contents are the same as the disc sold separately (which retails for $19.95 for just the one disc; mine was A Very Good Deal since I got four IC workouts for $15).

Comments: I bet this is what a lot of people were hoping the Iron Core Express aka Vol. 3 would be like: non-stop circuits rather than do an exercise, rest, do another exercise, rest, etc.
This is my favorite of the Iron Cores. That said, you’ll get no argument from me that the format is yawn-inducing. I mean, the circuits don’t vary at all as they’re repeated, as they did in Iron Cores 1 & 2. At least Sarah actually filmed them all rather than just filming them once through and then having the editor repeat them four times.
I found this to be a real bun burner, although if you’ve been doing kettlebell work regularly for a while now this may not give you the glutes DOMS it gave me. But if you’re turning to kettlebells in search of that kettlebell butt, pick this one up.

Instructor Comments:
Sarah is an RKC-certified instructor, so she knows her stuff, and most of her cues and instruction are about form.
Because you’re mostly going for time Sarah doesn’t count reps, although she’ll sometimes tell you one more or 15 more seconds. One thing I’ve found confusing is that after she’s given some form tips and encouragement, she’ll often say, “We have X exercise coming up,” so I’ll get prepared to switch, but we still have several more reps to do of the current exercise. I suspect once I’m more familiar with the workout I’ll know better when she’s actually switching sides or exercises.
I like Sarah all right as an instructor. She’s down to business, without any side chatter. I know I’ve commented on Sarah’s voice and vocal mannerisms, but her voice has deepened and mellowed a little bit, whether just as a natural result of time (women’s voices do that ever so much more slightly and slowly compared to men’s) or because of her pregnancy – yes, she breezes through this workout despite being several months pregnant – but I have no issues with how she speaks here at all.
Sarah cues for her right and left, so she does not mirror cue.